Friday, July 15, 2016

Nice

 

News out of Nice is horrific. I can feel myself becoming tragedy-saturated, and with this comes a numbing of the senses, dulled reactions, a sick feeling that it's all too far away and nothing we can do anyway to stop the hate and violence and death.

This is not the state I want to exist in, of detatchment and apathy. So I will reconnect and affirm our common humanity in baby-step ways today. I will smile warmly at strangers and hope it's contagious. I will hug my people and pet my animals. I will work fearlessly on my creative pursuits, and put my next travel plans into action.

Do you need some loving words in these difficult days? Let me know - I'll tell you something I adore about you. Just reach out, in the comments, in a private message, in a text, on the phone. Let's spread the love.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Finding Sri Prem Baba


Yesterday on social media I came across a post by my acquaintance Carolina Bergier that really resonated with me (interesting aside: I met Carol because she is part of Casa Soul, the organization that made Casa Rosa its headquarters when we sold the place several years ago). Anyhow, she had a quote by someone called Sri Prem Baba that majorly hit home. Here it is in Portuguese, as I originally saw it:

"Quanto mais freneticamente você busca por algo e mais esse algo parece fugir de você, maior é o seu não inconsciente para isso que conscientemente você deseja; e mais é a sua inabilidade para lidar com esse não. Ao tomar consciência desse não, você inicia o processo de compreensão e transformação dessa dificuldade. Então, talvez você descubra que isso que você quer não é exatamente o que você precisa; talvez seja somente um capricho do seu ego; uma obstinação para satisfazer uma vaidade."

Here's a translation on the fly:

"The more frantically you search for something and the more it seems to escape you, greater is your unconscious 'no' to this thing that you consciously desire; and greater is your inability to deal with this 'no'. By becoming conscious of this 'no', you begin the process of understanding and transforming this difficulty. Then, perhaps you discover that what you want isn't exactly what you need; perhaps it is just a whim of your ego; an obstinacy to satisfy vanity." 

Boom. That so incredibly incredibly resonates right now. Ufff.

After a bit of research this morning, I've learned more about Sri Prem Baba, the Brazilian-born spiritual master and humanitarian leader. Sometimes you find exactly what you need at the precise moment you most need it. This is how it felt to come across Sri Prem Baba in general, and in particular these words.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Back to Bay Life

My freeform pattern painting from last week. I never know what direction these pieces will take...

I've been back in the Bay Area for about a week now and am enjoying the particular pleasures of my life here, namely:

- Painting group. Every Tuesday I go to the house of my 87-year-old neighbor to paint for several hours. He is a retired architect, originally from Colombia, who could easily pass for 15 years younger (he has no wrinkles, is totally mobile and independent, and has a great sense of humor). Each week he opens his garage to me and a few other local artists and we paint, drink wine, share stories, and listen to music. This past week we had a turntable out and listened to Spanish records from the 1960's. Our host taught us to play the castanets, although none of us were particularly successful - they are way harder than they look.

- Cooking and eating fresh, simple meals. After three weeks in Italy and Slovenia, one of which was intensely spent doing wine and food tourism, it feels really good to be back to my regular routine. Since being home I've enjoyed making/eating white beans, roasted potatoes, arugula, radishes, zucchini, nectarines, bananas, oatmeal, cottage cheese, eggs, and almonds. Not all together of course, but this is the base from which I create salads, frittatas, and bowls. There have been some treats, too, of course. But it feels good to detox a bit from all the alcohol and sugar and fat of my trip.

- Running. I ran while traveling, but there's nothing like being on my home turf. I am privileged to have a beautiful place to run right outside my doorstep. I can do an easy 3 or 5-mile loop along the water's edge, through a park, and into a marina area...or I can go the other direction and do some intense hills through the residential heart of Point Richmond, admiring architecture and gardens and killer views as I go along.

- Dancing. Perhaps the thing I most love about my life in the Bay Area these days. Be it cardio-fitness with the lovely ladies at Hipline in Oakland, salsa/bachata/kizomba at the dance school I've been going to in Emeryville, or most recently forró with live music in San Francisco, dancing is what keeps a smile on my face more than anything. I'm getting better at following, too, which makes the experience of partner dancing all the more enjoyable. 

- Studio life. Currently I'm trying to clean out my studio and get back to the minimalist state of being that makes me feel at ease. I see the light at the end of the current clutter tunnel, though, so hopefully tomorrow I will resume actually making jewelry instead of just organizing and purging stuff. I am looking forward to soldering again, I've got the itch to make some chandelier earrings. Plus I have some client work lined up, which isn't always glamorous but I'm grateful it's part of my life here for sure.

- Hanging out. I've been doing a fair amount of taking it easy these days, which feels good. Hanging out with my mom and her cat, Tuxa. Drinking lots of tea. Re-reading "Como Agua para Chocolate" and wishing I was eating all that divine food and living a love story of my own in Mexico. I'm hoping to sunbathe at some point, although the weather has been quite foggy which has me wearing slippers and snuggling with the electric blanket rather than reaching for my bikini. Hopefully I'll have a chance in the coming week...

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Racist America

Last week I was having lunch in Ljubljana with my Slovene friend Marjana and two American girlfriends. Marjana asked if we have a problem with racism in our country, and we replied that sadly yes, it is most definitely the case. 

We told her about all the police killings of African Americans for no reason at all, and the institutionalized racism people of color face every day, and the prevalence of white privilege. She had the impression of the US being this super tolerant land where everyone is free, where the American dream reigns supreme, where hard work can make everything come true.

Not the case, we told her. It's the myth, but not the reality.

Every day we see more and more sickening examples of police brutality and systemic abuses against people of color. I know this violence and discrimination has been going on since our country was founded, and that the only thing different is that now there are cameras. But truly, it must stop. It has to change. We must stand up and demand accountability and justice.

It is beyond fucked up. 

Words fail.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Munich-SFO

The last time I was on this flight from Munich to San Francisco I sobbed silently at takeoff.  Not because of fear of flying, which I definitely suffer from, but because I was hit with a wave of emotion and in that instant I knew my relationship was over. No more pretending an alternate destiny was possible, no more head in the sand. I had gut-level certainty that the next step was a breakup, a chapter change, and the pain that comes when a love that once flourished must be laid to rest. I was grateful when the seat belt sign was turned off and I could go to the lavatory for a real ugly cry, with nobody around to witness my scrunched up face or hear my wailing.

That was in March, nearly four months ago. Now it is the last day of June and I am on the same Lufthansa flight headed home from spending some time in Italy at my grandmother's house. I cried again, but only because I watched an inspiring film (Joy with Jennifer Lawrence). It's amazing how much has changed in this short period, how different I feel.

Unlike the last time I was on this flight, I am not dreading coming back to California (even though I know divorce papers and the slog of moving my things from one space to the next await me). I also don’t wish I had stayed in Italy, although it was tempting to extend my trip after a successful beta experience of organizing wine and culinary tours with a childhood friend and a fabulous group of ladies as guests. It’s nice to feel a balance of saudades for the place I am leaving and the place that is my next destination.

I see myself coming into a new phase: one of being single and independent, having multiple jobs I create for myself, and with no clear primary residence. I’ll be bouncing between the Bay Area (the work-live artist space I’ve created in the basement of my mom’s house), the Italy-Slovenia border region (where my grandmother was from and her big, uninhabited property awaits its destiny), Houston (where my best friend lives), New Mexico (my dad’s place), and who knows where else in between. I envision lots of geography, lots of change, wearing lots of hats. Just how I like it.

I am trying out the elevator speech about my life as I meet people on the plane: “I am a jeweler, artist, translator, traveler, writer, and dancer.” Yes, all of those things together in one complex ball of self-employment and creativity and travel. Interdisciplinary, interconnected, international. Untitled for the time being. Following my gut. Seeing where the road takes me.


Monday, June 20, 2016

BFF

This girl and I have been traveling around the world together for 15 years already, and I hope we never stop. This time I brought her to Venice as a surprise. So far it's been pretty perfect.

 



 

Drawing to Overcome Fear of Flying

  

For as much as I love traveling, I am a fearful little flyer. Last week on the Lufthansa regional jet from Munich to Trieste, I could feel myself freaking out during takeoff.

My involuntary reaction when I think the plane is about to drop out of the sky is to throw my arms up in panic and then grab onto the armrests for dear life. I'll white-knuckle it for a few seconds, get my shit together and release my grip, take a breath or two, and then sit on my hands or fidget with my hair or something until I feel like we're about to fall of the sky again and the whole flail-grip-regain control routine repeats itself.

My row companion was pretty nice about it, but I felt supremely awkward grabbing all over the place and wanted to get my behavior under control. So I took out my sketchbook and started a weird mix of nervous doodling and contour drawing of the inside of the plane. It worked quite well to manage my phobia, as I could concentrate on reproducing the lines and objects in front of me to distract myself, and then just let the pen go crazy in the moments of acute stress.

You can see the balding head of the guy in front of me, the window, the seatbelt/no smoking sign, the overhead bins, the curtain separating first class...and me intermittently losing it, translated into shapes and squiggles.

In all, a useful exercise I'm sure to repeat on future flights and in other moments of fear and uncertainty - of which we sadly have an abundance of these days. At least I have a funny drawing and a story to share as a result, a concrete transformation of negative emotions into something positive. 

What do you do to cope with fear?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Amici di Ballo

Tonight I went out with a group of new friends to a salsa, bachata, and kizomba party. It was in a town about 40 minutes away from Gorizia, and we caravaned there in the pouring rain. It was super fun to go to a party and have an adventure, even cooler to be doing so as part of a crew.

My friends - miei amici - are the people I've met through the dance school I found on my trip here back in February. It's called Arte Danza and they have a bit of everything - latin ballroom, zumba, pilates, breakdancing. It's been a lot of fun going to classes, and good exercise too.

Dancing salsa, bachata, and kizomba with a bunch of Italians has been an interesting experience. Most of them have learned at dance schools/courses and are firmly familiar with a set of patterns and partners. My observation (both from being a sometime student in said classes, as well as on the dancefloor tonight) is that this tends to cause weaker male leads and lots of female back-leading. Consequently, it can be hard to follow if you're not part of the in-crowd...but still a ton of fun. Also contributing to the challenge is the fact that most people here are learning Cuban-style salsa (as opposed to salsa de linea), which for me is way harder to follow and make flow.

In all, a very worthwhile experience. I imagine at the end of the month I'll feel a lot lighter on my feet, more in sync with my dancing friends, and more like I know what I'm doing.

And then, likely, I'll come back to my Bay Area salsa/bachata/kizomba scene and feel a little off! Hahaha...